Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Sailing could be next for Olympic axe, says Neil Pryde

by Alvin Sallay, South China Morning Post on 15 May 2012
NeilPryde Racing Series - Top of the Gulf Regatta 2012 - Neil Pryde, himself Guy Nowell/Top of the Gulf
Former Olympian and millionaire businessman Neil Pryde has warned sailing is in danger of being kicked out of the Olympics as the fallout continues from the controversial decision to dump windsurfing in favour of kiteboarding for the 2016 Games.

Pryde says the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has made a terrible and unfathomable decision and accused it of 'selfishness'. 'The Isaf is represented by all member countries and most come from the yacht brigade. What they have done is to safeguard their narrow interests and sacrificed windsurfing. What they don't realise is the whole sport of sailing is in danger of being kicked out of the Olympics,' said the 71-year-old Pryde, whose name is attached to the RSX windsurfing discipline which will be seen for the last time at the London Olympics.

'From a business perspective it doesn't impact me as I will continue to provide the sailing equipment. But from a personal point of view, I think it is a terrible decision for the sport of sailing as a whole. It's an absolute disgrace.'

Pressure from the International Olympic Committee is seen as the reason why ISAF has jumped the gun. Having placed a cap on the number of sports at the summer Olympics - 28 - the IOC has also made it clear all sports have to be commercially viable. And for this, television is the key.

'The main source of revenue for the IOC is from television and as far as sailing is concerned, it scores poorly in TV ratings,' Pryde said. 'On top of this, the IOC is also against sports which are regarded as elitist. They want sports for the people. Unfortunately sailing is regarded as elitist, the 'yacht class'.'

Windsurfing is virtually the poor man's discipline in sailing. All the equipment, which is provided free of charge for the Olympics by Pryde, is one-design and is far cheaper than a dinghy or a laser boat, other classes at the Olympics.

Pryde is adamant windsurfing has helped raise the profile of sailing, and more importantly changed a long-held perception the sport was only for the upper-crust gentry, those from the 'yacht class'. 'Windsurfing has been in the Olympics for more than 25 years and it has helped introduce sailing to a wider audience,' he said. 'Just look at China, who came into sailing through windsurfing and today is challenging for the America's Cup.

'This discipline has helped countries from Thailand to India come into the sport and it is sad the Isaf has totally ignored this fact. It is a selfish decision made purely to protect certain sailing classes already in the Games,' he said.

The Hong Kong-based sailing enthusiast, whose company Pryde Group employs more than 2,500 people in 40 different countries, is a world leader in the marine and adventure sports markets with an annual turnover of HK$1 billion. He sailed for Hong Kong in the Flying Dutchman class - with Peter Gamble - at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and, until Lee Lai-shan won a gold medal in windsurfing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, held the best result in sailing, a 13th-place finish.

His business interests allow him free access to the corridors of power in the sailing world, and Pryde was present two years ago at an ISAF council meeting in Athens when the move began to get kiteboarding into the Olympics as a separate discipline. Pryde said: 'Originally the idea was for sailing to ask for another medal at the Olympics by introducing kiteboarding. 'There was no talk of replacing windsurfing, but somehow, over the years, things have evolved and with the number of athletes at the Olympics being restricted, this has unfortunately occurred.

'While kiteboarding is a great sport, it is quite immature. There is no structure, no organisation and no youth development. The plan was to introduce kiteboarding by the 2020 Games, not in 2016. Fast-forwarding a still developing sport is totally ridiculous.' The switch must still be approved by the IOC, but with the technical aspects of sports generally left to the discretion of the federations, it is highly unlikely they will intervene on behalf of windsurfing.

www.scmp.com
NaiadWildwind 2016 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Ladkin and Hauser crowned Pacasmayo Classic Champions!
On Friday evening, riders and spectators gathered by the pool at the El Faro Adventure Resorts for the awards ceremony. On Friday evening as the sun set over the pacific, riders and spectators gathered by the pool at the El Faro Adventure Resorts for the awards ceremony.
Posted on 22 Aug
Hydrofoil Pro Tour Mauritius – Final day – Parlier wins two in a row
The idyllic island paradise in the Indian Ocean was a must see for sailors and their loved ones who made the journey. From recent events you have Axel Mazella who sailed a convincing victory at the European Championship in July. Johnny Heineken is always a threat for the top spot with piercing hot streak abilities. Maxime Nocher the 2015 World Tour champ and perennial podium threat….
Posted on 21 Aug
Top contenders extend their lead on Day 3 of the HydroFoil Pro Tour
Another five races have been completed in picture perfect conditions on the island paradise of Mauritius. Another five races have been completed in picture perfect conditions on the island paradise of Mauritius, bringing the race-count to fourteen thus far. The competitors with true grit will find themselves at the top.
Posted on 20 Aug
HydroFoil Pro Tour Mauritius – Day 2
To succeed in such a long series of races it takes strength and stamina but Parlier seems to possess something greater. Parlier continues his streak of perfect scores. Four more races are in the books marking the halfway point at this highlight event in the Indian Ocean. Another day of strong breeze and clear waters was the perfect setting for this global hydrofoiling circuit.
Posted on 20 Aug
Day 5 - Epic conditions for final day in Pacasmayo
Stellar conditions continued for Day 5 of the Pacasmayo Classic to wrap up the remaining heats in Womens 2016 Pacasmayo Classic - Stellar conditions continued for Day 5 of the Pacasmayo Classic to wrap up the remaining heats in Womens, Masters, GrandMasters, Youths, and the Pro Final.
Posted on 20 Aug
Park's pride as Brits leave Rio Olympic Sailing as top nation
With 17 countries claiming the 30 medals from 10 events between them, Park thinks Rio lived up to its reputation With 17 countries claiming the 30 medals from 10 events between them, Park thinks Rio lived up to its reputation as one of the most difficult places in the world to sail. At London 2012 the same numbers of medals was spread between 15 countries.
Posted on 19 Aug
Great Britain is the top performing nation at Rio Olympic Sailing
After yesterday’s postponement for lack of breeze, an eighth in double points Medal Race ensured they were the champions Two golds for Giles Scott (Finn) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (470 Women) plus Nick Dempsey’s RS:X windsurfing silver ensured Britain has topped the best sailing nation table for four of the last five Olympics.
Posted on 19 Aug
HydroFoil Pro Tour Mauritius – Day 1
Parlier comes out swinging the day one in the lagoon of Pointe d’Esny was what some might identify as champagne sailing. Racers were treated with fifteen to twenty knot winds, flat water, blue skies, and the beautiful backdrop of Isle Mauritius in view. For Frenchman Nico Parlier today’s performance probably has him pondering certain thoughts of champagne. After coming off a regatta victory in San Francisco and then winning all five of today’s races Parlier looks to be the top gun on the tour at the moment.
Posted on 18 Aug
Riders awoke to perfect peeling surf on Day 4 of AWT Pacasmayo Classic
On cue to the forecast the waves and wind were up and the call was made to start the Pro division at noon. On cue to the forecast the waves and wind were up and the call was made to start the Pro division at noon. With head-logo+ sets starting to show up and riders on 4.5-5.2s the stage was set for an epic day.
Posted on 18 Aug
Debut of amateur and women fleets on Day 3 of AWT Pacasmayo Classic
Riders awoke to sunny skies, wind, and the start of the new swell this morning at El Faro Adventure Resort on Day three With the waves slow to arrive the judging committee decided to wait through the morning session and kick things off with the Amateurs right at noon. Out of the gates it was great action with the Amateurs picking up clean waves as the swell started to fill in.
Posted on 17 Aug